back to article DARPA, US Marines team on proper flying car project

Big news for flying-car lovers today, as US military boffinry chiefs have unveiled full details of their plan to produce an excellent flying Humvee or sky-jeep type vehicle - and have a prototype flying by 2015. Plans for the so-called "Transformer TX" were revealed in Pentagon budget documents last year, but details were …


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  1. Michael 82

    Quicker and cheaper..

    What about a good 'ol fashioned hover conversion from Goldie Wilson the 3rd.. a snap at $39,999.95!

    Oh bugger it isnt 2015 yet!

  2. PerfectBlue

    Won't happen

    The military has looked in to this before, and it's always fallen over on very simple hurdle.

    You can't bring people into/out of a fire zone on on because they are too vulnerable as the land/take off.

    We have the technology to make personal jet/rocket transport for soldiers. We've had it since the 1970s. It uses the same technology as the engine on the Tomahawk missile. But it's just too vulnerable to small arms fire to be practical

  3. Richard Pennington 1

    ... and off-road to boot

    By definition, ANY flying car is off-road as soon as it takes off ...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    sign me up for two!

    2015, that's only five years, so lets say it slips to 2017. Seven years to operational devices, add two more years for civilian reverse-engineering (no armor, no guns, no rockets - [no fun]) and we ARE going to see these on car dealer lots by 2020 - that's just TEN years from NOW.

    Remember the Hummer wasn't supposed to be a civilian vehicle either, Arnie bought the first street legal one, and then came the deluge.

    With the US military's bottomless checkbook, here's the deal - "Build it and they will buy".

    I'll have two please, my wife gets the one with the rocket launcher.

    1. Blake St. Claire

      Street legal?

      > Arnie bought the first street legal one

      Then all the ones I saw being driven around -- by military personnel -- before Arnie got his weren't legal? Somehow I don't think so.

      IIRC it's that AM General wasn't in the business of supplying to civilians. Not a surprise really, many military contractors don't have a civilian supply chain -- most mere mortals can't buy Sidewinder missiles or F18s either.

      Arnie just had to jump through a lot of hoops, i.e. bribe enough people, to get his toy. I guess all the other people who wanted one before him weren't willing to pony up the extra cash required.

    2. Big-nosed Pengie


      Any resemblance between the military hummer and the civilian version is in name only. The civilian Hummer is an Isuzu truck in a party dress.

      1. Blake St. Claire

        An Isuzu?

        No, not the H1. Not even the H2. Perhaps you're thinking of the H3?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    El Reg office layout...

    "and we here on the Reg flying-car desk will certainly be following the Transformer TX project with interest"

    Is that in between the Monkey-Buttler desk and the LHC Interdimensional Portal Desk?

    1. Bassey

      Re: El Reg office layout...

      > Is that in between the Monkey-Buttler desk and the LHC Interdimensional Portal Desk?

      It's between, underneath, inside, around and 30 Million light-years away from the LHC Inter-dimensional Portal Desk - all at the same time!

    2. Jimbo 6

      Quote : Jasper from 'The Simpsons'

      "Wake me up when robot wives are cheap and effective"

  6. M7S

    No good for the UK - Twice the size of a Humvee

    It wont really fit up any of our cobbled back-alleys then.


  7. The Indomitable Gall

    IGRPA press release

    The Indomitable Gall Research Projects Agency would like to announce our latest project to be put to tender.

    IGRPA will give a prize of £10,000 and a 5 year contract to anyone who can produce an instantaneous matter transporter that can be manufactured for under £23.95 by the year 2020. The device will be capable of transporting a human 5 light-years in under a second, with the power draw of a Bayliss wind-up radio.

  8. Chris Seiter

    Toyota design?

    Seriously? Do they not want it to stop?

  9. SlabMan

    It'll never take off

    Twice as long as a HumVee. Downside - you'll get clamped twice. Upside - you can still fly away.

  10. Peter Ford

    Paging Dr Moller

    At last - a chance for him to get in on the pork barrel and raise some real money...

  11. /dev/me

    DARPA, US Marines team on /proper/ flying car project

    In my book anything with a prop is a helicopter. If they want an off-road driving helicopter that is fine. But if they want a /proper/ flying car, there's but one way: anti-gravity

    Arnie => terminator => timemachine => future => anti-gravity

  12. richard 69

    rubbish smoke effects

    will it have that then? some crap dry ice wafting out of an old hoover hose?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    finesse - and go ahead clamp my car, make my day!!!

    > Arnie bought the first street legal one

    first *civilian* street legal one.

    >Then all the ones I saw being driven around -- by military personnel -- before Arnie got his weren't legal? Somehow I don't think so.

    All kinds of military hardware isn't "street legal" by DMV rules. Much of it can't even be made so. "Sir, your Abrams tank doesn't have 5 mph crush zones." answer - "Sure it does, anything it hits gets crushed." Military aircraft are the same way - some can be civilianized, some cannot. The military isn't subject to any of this nanny state stuff - seat belts, bumper heights, etc. are irrelevant.

    >IIRC it's that AM General wasn't in the business of supplying to civilians.

    Originally they weren't - it was the lure of the almighty dollar that changed their minds.

    And when I get MY flying Humvee with all the weapons systems intact, please, please, please clamp my car!! Oh by the way, do you wonder what that big red laser dot in the middle of your forehead is all about? Muhahahah!

    1. Blake St. Claire

      Yeah, finesse, FTW

      You didn't quote me correctly, I'm not the one who wrote ">Arnie bought the first..." That was me quoting the OP.

      Then you conveniently left out my comment about money so you could make essentially the same comment. Classy.

      And if the military can drive them on the street -- legally -- with or without seat belts, 5MPH bumpers, crash tests, etc., then they're still street legal. Perhaps it occurred to you that there are laws exempting the milspec version from all that stuff?

      It's either legal or it's not. It can't be both. Arnie's was just the first civilian, plain and simple.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge


        "And if the military can drive them on the street -- legally -- with or without seat belts, 5MPH bumpers, crash tests, etc., then they're still street legal."

        Or it could just mean that the cops aren't too keen on pulling over a fully armed military vehicle and pissing off those inside it.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Another RFP

    Jet-powered aircraft that can fly 5000 miles, drop 10 metric tons of ordnance and fly back to base, self-powered. Max Altitude at least 12000 meters.

    Would be used to punish locals who want to bomb us into accepting their violent faith and then set up booby-traps when we want to go after the nasties.

    Oh wait, let me look at the B-52 and Tu-95 specs. Or the A380 specs.

    There is only one solution to ghanistan: Get out of the shit and only interact with them from safe altitude. Karzai already tries to change sides, but I guess they will behead him anyway. Their violent faith commands them to do that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Violent Faith?

      I wasn't aware Afghanistan was a christian country...

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    I thought DARPA was getting a little staid in their requirements

    But this is well up to their completely bonkers benchmark.

    The pictures show a sort of V22 Osprey design which is no where near going to be road worthy.

    Whatever comes out of this project (*if* anything comes out) will look radically different.

  16. Stevie


    Call me skeptical, but this sounds a lot like Karl Pilkington's "Life Watch".

  17. Anonymous Coward


    What will Optimus think about that?

  18. Celticguy

    Forget the flying car

    Where's my dropship and APC combo please? That thing had a particle phase cannon that could fry half a city WHAP. Not to mention it's excellent complement of sharp sticks!

  19. Steen Hive

    Stretching the laws of physics somewhat

    To think anything that size could produce enough power to carry something as dense as a US Marine.

  20. Adrian Esdaile

    This is a job for Moller!

    You know, the guys who claim they have a working Flying Car Just About To Go Into Production Next Year(tm)?

    Moller have been claiming they have perfected the tech for something like two decades now, so they should be a cert to win this contract.

    I'm so certain they'll do it I'm going to hold my breath! ready......

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sello-tape a helicopter onto the top of a car and have fold-away propellers.

    Now that I've got a more sensible suggestion than DARPA, can I get their budget next year?

  22. Anonymous Coward


    So the whole idea is it can skip over the mine fields then patrol.........

    Is it me or would it not be easier to try and manufacturer some sort of Chopper to air lift them in?

    Doesn't need to be huge, it just needs to have a cockpit and a bit for the car to hook into + something to lift them, I'm thinking like the things that collected Harvesters in Dune2/2000 if anyone played either of them.

    Seems infinately more plausible and cheaper since we have all the relevant tech... Seriously, would you want to be flying over a mine field at 10,000 feet only to have your "leccy" supply run low and you plummet? - Choices are, crash and die... or parachute out of something with rotors that is crashing and descend into a mine field... hmm...

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    Avro SkyCar.


    This specification's straight out the Department of We've Heard it all Before.

    FAIL, because it did last time.

  24. Max_Normal

    This will not be a "proper" flying car

    Until they master "proper" antigravity, which due to the laws of physics, seems fairly unlikely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't think...

      about _LAWS_ of physics, they're more like... guidelines, suggestions of physics even.

  25. Youngdog

    Doomed to fail

    On a 43M USD Budget?

    No. Frickin'. Chance. We are not talking about improving an existing model but designing a brand new solution from the bottom up.

    Either a) This will get binned during the submission stage once a more realistic figure appears or b) the actual cost will run into many times the original budget and make this thing liable for the chop during the next wave of cost cutting.

    If I was REALLY being cynical I would suggest that this whole thing was a low-cost, buzz-word laden white-elephant purposely designed to justify pre-project overheads/resources before being sacrificed ahead of anything actually achievable.

  26. Daily Mail Reader

    Dr Moller already there... The M600 LAMV

    @Peter Ford/Adrian Esdaile

    Dr Moller is already there - even a link to the DARPA thing on the bottom of the page:

  27. Maty


    If going for an out-and-out flying car is too ambitious, how about an APC with 'hop' capability? Driving in an operational area (apart from diversions such as IEDs) often means detouring 150km because a bridge is out, or driving parallel to where you want to go because of a drainage ditch or wall in the way.

    Make something that can hop a standard humvee 100m forward, and/or 100m up (or any combination thereof) and you'll become the patron saint of soldiers in low-intensity wars everywhere.

  28. Etrien Dautre

    да УАЗик им надо...

    UAZ. All metal + tent, no plastic inside. Unprecedented 4x4, brand new one, tank tracker, $ 8000, delivery included. Will fly even if you forget to start the chops engine. If MoD deals, feel free to contact me.

  29. gimbal

    This is my favorite news article of all time

    I'm just sayin.

    Yay, The Reg!

  30. DaveMorris

    Civilian version? Will never happen

    The various governments of our countries are so terrified of flying civilians that they have been trying to destroy our general aviation for decades. Have you seen the hundreds and hundreds of pages of regulations we pilots have to memorize just in order to fly the family a few hundred miles to grandmother's house? it's insane. Now they have even passed a law in the US that we cannot leave the country by plane without obtaining permission PERMISSION from the government to leave. They are allowed to search us without a warrant, confiscate our aircraft, and do all sorts of other things that are illegal in any other environment except GA. In Europe, you can drive from Germany to France without stopping at customs, but not if you fly across the border.

    No, the idea of a flying car for civilians is a cruel hoax that our governments will NEVER allow.

  31. Tim Jenkins

    Street Legal

    "The military isn't subject to any of this nanny state stuff - seat belts, bumper heights, etc. are irrelevant."

    Bet they're not allowed to smoke inside them...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Crash, bang, wollop!

    I understand freedom of speech and everything but if we're reading this then so are all the terrorists. What happened to all the secrecy?

    Paris cos she can't keep a secret!

    1. Anonymous Coward


      It's actually a cunning diversion. In reality, DARPA are designing subterranean drilling vehicles to deliver soldiers into the front rooms of suspected terrorists.....

      Just don't tell anyone. ;-)

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